Galapagos Travel Cost: Full Breakdown

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Galapagos travel cost

Planning a trip to the Galapagos can be an exciting time. However, it is certainly true that Galapagos travel costs are generally higher than the rest of mainland South America

Because of this, it's important to understand the costs associated with a Galapagos trip and to plan and budget accordingly. 

The main cost consideration is between cruises and land-based trips. Whilst cruises cost more, they offer the best way of exploring the islands and their history in depth. This is particularly true for people who are interested in snorkelling and diving. 

Although land-based tours are more inhibitive, they offer the cheapest way of exploring the Galapagos. This tends to be ideal for people on a tighter budget. 

Whilst the cruise and tours are the main costs, there is also a host of other costs that need consideration such as flights, hotels, tips, parts fees etc. Read below for more detailed information! 

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Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote with our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.

Galapagos Travel Cost

When budgeting for your Galapagos trip, the key cost consideration is the cruise itself. 

Thanks to it's rich waters, unique wildlife and amazing weather, there are hundreds of cruise options to choose from. Although this can seem overwhelming sometimes, it gives you a great variety of cruises to choose from. 

Choosing the right cruise to suit you can be a tricky business - that's why we wrote this detailed guide. However, the best advise we can give is decide on what you want to see and do and find a cruise itinerary that matches! 

Although land-based tours often less expensive, its important to note that once aboard your cruise, there are very few extra costs as your accommodation and food are all included. 

Galapagos cruise costs vary significantly depending on itinerary and the level of cruise you choose. There are over 70 ships offering cruises in the Galapagos archipelago and these range from expedition ships carrying 100 passengers, to small yachts and catamarans that carry less than 15. The boats also range in comfort and quality from basic economy yachts to luxury vessels with hot tubs, lounges and superb cuisine. 

The general guide line is that the cheapest cruises will cost about $350 a night, whilst the luxury boats will cost around $800 - $1,000 per night. Mid-range vessels will cost anything from $400 - $600 per night depending on boat and itinerary.

Below is a graph to give you more information. 

Level Of Boat

3 Nights/4 Days

4 Nights/5 Days

7 Nights/8 Days

Luxury Yacht

$2,900

$3,900

$6,400

Expedition Ship

$1,800

$2,300

$3,700

First Class Yacht

$1,600

$2,100

$3,400

Mid-Range Vessel

$1,200

$1,800

$2,600

Economy Vessel

$900

$1,200

$2,000

Last Minute Cruises

Like Antarctica, last minute cruises to the Galapagos are a popular option for people hoping to save a few bucks. Whilst its certainly true that you can get some cracking last minute Galapagos cruise deals (often up to 50% off), its worth noting some of the problems with this option. The main issue is that its very difficult to plan for a last minute cruise. You have no way of knowing which boat won't fill up and no control over itinerary. Instead of booking ahead, you need to wait around hoping a cruise become available. Click here for more information

Guides

Because the wildlife is the main reason why people take Galapagos cruises, having a good guide is paramount. Galapagos guides actually have a large impact on Galapagos cruise costs. Level 3 guides (the highest level) only work on the top yachts like Linblad Nat Geo and Metropolitan Touring. Guides with less qualifications and less English tend to work on the cheaper cruise boats. Click here for more information

Land Based Tours

Land Based Tours are certainly a good option if you're looking to save a bit of cash. Each day trip costs on average about $80-250 depending on where you visit and what activities you do. 

Whilst this is cheaper than a cruise, you still need to factor in accommodation which can cost anywhere between $90 and $500 per night depending on where you stay. Prices also vary a little  depending on season. 

If you stayed at the cheapest place and took a day trip each day, you could potentially spend less than $200 per day (excluding food, drink, park fees etc.). You can make this even cheaper obviously by not taking day trips each day, but instead exploring the island you're staying on. 

The negative side is that you won't visit as many islands or explore the less visited locations as you would on a cruise. 

Galapagos travel cost 1

​Flight Costs

Flights are one of the major elements when it comes to Galapagos travel costs. To Keep costs down, it is highly advised to take a flight into Ecuador first - either Guayaquil or Quito. From there you can take an internal flight to the Galapagos.

We strongly recommend allowing a day or two in mainland Ecuador prior to catching your internal flight. Not only are flights delayed or cancelled occasionally due to weather, but most international flights into Ecuador from America arrive late at night.

Return flights to the Galapagos from the mainland can cost in excess of $500. This really does depend on season though and you can get some good deals in the off-season. 

International return flights to Ecuador can also cost quite a bit. Expect to pay in excess of $600 return from Miami or LA. this can coast more from other cities that do not offer direct flights. 

For people coming from Europe, you should budget at least $1,000 return. 

Return flight to Ecuador - $800

Return flight to the Galapagos - $300

Galapagos travel cost - flights

Park Fees

Unlike many other South American cruise destinations such as Patagonia and the Amazon, the Galapagos National Park applies an entrance fee to almost all foreign visitors. 

Regardless of your length of stay or reason for visit, all tourists over the age of 12 must pay a $100 entrance fee upon arrival in the Galapagos. Please note that the fee must be paid in cash. 

On top of this, you must pay a $20 migration fee known as a  “Transit Control Card” or TCT. This also must be paid in cash. On some of the top level cruises, your guides will pay this for you. For more information click here

Many of the private reserves also ask for an entrance fee. These are generally fairly minimal and cost between $3 - $10 per person. 

Park fees budget - $130

Accommodation

Accommodation in the Galapagos varies significantly depending on the island you stay and the level of hotel you choose. 

If you want style, comfort, pool, and buffet breakfast, then you should expect to pay between $150 - $250 per night for a double room.

There are also plenty of mid-range options that cost around $100 per night. Just make sure you have air conditioning! 

For the budget traveler there are actually some great options. There are a number of hostels on the main islands that cost as little as $20 per night. This is generally a dormitory bed and you'll need to book ahead of time to get the deals. For a basic single room you should expect to pay at least $40 per night.

Once you consider the price of a day trip on top of your accommodation, and consider breakfast, lunch and dinner, the option of a cruise starts to look more appealing as the costs begin to level out.

Get a Cruise Quote!

Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote with our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.

​​​Insurance

Travel insurance is one of the most commonly overlooked costs when budgeting for a Galapagos trip. 

The reason for this is that most people assume their standard credit card travel insurance or something similar will do. This is not the case, especially if you are taking a cruise. 

Almost all standard policies will not cover you at sea, nor will they cover you for snorkelling, diving, kayaking etc. You must read the small print! 

To help you get the right insurance for your Galapagos cruise, we have written a detailed guide here

A good policy that covers you on and off shore and for all the adventure activities you plan on doing will cosy anywhere between $75 - $250 depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, length of trip etc. 

Travel insurance budget - $125

Galapagos travel cost 4

​Miscellaneous costs

Like all travel, there are a bunch of miscellaneous costs that we often forget to include when budgeting for our trip. These are often quite small costs, but can add up by the end of the trip. 

Passport and visa expenses: A short term visit visa for Ecuador will cost US citizens $60. $30 visa fee plus a $30 application fee. 

Transportation: Cruise companies will sometimes cover your transportation to and from the airport, but not always, so we recommend budgeting $50

Drinks: Most non-alcoholic beverages will be included in your cruise cost. However, on holiday we all want a stiff drink or two! Budget $100 per person. 

Packing list: Although the Galapagos is warm, there are always items of clothing you buy prior to a trip! For a complete packing list, please click here. We suggest budgeting $150

Gear hire: Almost all cruises will include gear hire such as snorkelling and diving equipment, but some won't. This is also the case with day trips. Budget $50 for this. 

Tips: It is customary to tip your cruise guides at the end of the trip. Everyone puts money into one large pot which is then distributed between the guides. The typical amount of $20 per day, per person. 

​​Total Budget

As can be seen above, there are so many variables when it comes to Galapagos cruise costs that it is impossible to offer a total budget for everyone. 

All you can do is note down the costs we have given and calculate each one to the length of your journey and go from there. Galapagos is certainly not a cheap destination, but it's totally worth it - you will never forget your trip and the amazing experiences you have there. 

​FAQ

If you have any queries or questions regarding Galapagos Travel costs, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below.

Thank you and happy travels!

Expedition Cruise Team

About the Author Expedition Cruise

ExpeditionCruise.net is the web’s most authoritative information portal on adventure and expedition cruising. Our mission is to provide up to date and comprehensive information on traveling to the Arctic, Antarctica and further afield, so that your experience is as fulfilling and safe as possible.

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